Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Temple University recently announced a new initiative to increase “campus security,” that is, the power of campus police and the extent to which they work with the Philadelphia Police Department. The following is a statement by Rank-and-File Temple (RAFT), the rank-and-file caucus of TAUP (AFT Local 4531). TAUP is the union for teachers, librarians, and other education workers at Temple University. RAFT has also helped lead the struggle to disaffiliate the union national AFT from all cop unions. Temple says they want more cops for “security.” They already have the biggest, most expensive campus police force in the country. Cops are not the answer. We say no to TUPD and all police.
Philadelphia - The School District of Philadelphia is working to repatriate Native American skeletal remains found in a high school classroom closet this summer. A letter sent to parents of Central High School students Friday said the “human skeletal item” was previously used as a teaching aid and dated back to the 1850s. The district consulted with the Department of Interior, Temple University and other experts about how to handle the remains, Evelyn Nunez, the district's chief of schools wrote in the letter to parents. “The District is also working with these partners to return this person, who has been identified as a male Native American, to his home tribe,” she said.
According to the United Nations, the world produces enough food to feed 10 billion people. Yet this year, even in the United States, the world’s richest country, 1 in 3 American families with kids went hungry. Even before the pandemic, in 2019, official statistics from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) detailed that 35 million people went hungry–10 million of them children. The COVID-19 pandemic supercharged the situation, exposing even those who felt “secure” to the possibility of going without eating. In a society where food is not a human right but a good to be purchased, how were people supposed to eat if they couldn’t work? The short answer: they didn’t. Receiving almost no help from the federal government, working people in the United States were laid off by the millions.
Since the beginning of time, there has been a constant struggle between people who want to be free and those who seek to control them. It is an unending war that that rages just beneath the surface of “civilized” society, waiting to reach a boiling point where violence can erupt on the streets between police and citizens—or the oppressor and the oppressed. Since our history is passed down by those who seek to control us, this struggle is framed in a way where the oppressors are always the innocent victims, and the oppressed the senseless terrorists when in reality, the opposite is usually true. Nowhere is this situation more obvious than in the media coverage and cultural myths surrounding the American Civil Rights movement. Police would regularly raid the offices and homes of civil rights leaders, shooting first and asking questions later.
Philadelphia is on the verge of upending evictions as we know them. Last Wednesday, the Municipal Court of Philadelphia, which houses landlord-tenant court, released a new order following the extension of the CDC’s nationwide eviction moratorium through June. For the next 45 days, landlords are required to apply to PHLRentAssist, the city’s rental assistance program, and enroll in the Eviction Diversion Program before filing an eviction for nonpayment. The order is a game changer. Before the pandemic, landlords filed 20,000 evictions a year in Philadelphia’s landlord-tenant court. That’s despite the devastatingly long list of harms associated with eviction, harms that start with the court filing, a record of which is publicly accessible forever — regardless of the outcome.
The National Lawyers Guild stands in solidarity with the Poor People’s Army and all of the 30+ families that are sheltered in homes that are reclaimed, abandoned properties in Philadelphia. Three families in Philadelphia, residing in homes owned by the Department of Housing & Urban Development, have received notices or threats of eviction within the last 2 months, and could be thrown out into the freezing cold at any moment. Poor People’s Army / Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign has filed 3 pro se federal injunctions for these properties and are likely to go to court any day. The families should not be viewed as trespassers or criminals, they are human beings that have a right to safe housing.
Andrea McLaughlin, a second grade teacher, is afraid to return to her school, F.S. Edmonds Elementary in Northwest Philadelphia, because she doesn’t know what she will find. She, and many other public school teachers, don’t believe in the promises the School District of Philadelphia has made in its plans to reopen this month. “This is beyond COVID,” McLaughlin said. “This is about trust, and this is about getting us what we need and our kids deserve.” McLaughlin and other staff were supposed to return to school buildings Monday for the first time since March.
Thousands of Philadelphia public school teachers are set to defy their district’s order to return to classrooms Monday. They will instead work virtually. This week marks the third attempt by the school district of Philadelphia to reopen school buildings in the midst of the pandemic. The district has been remote-only since last March. District officials demanded that approximately 2,000 kindergarten through second-grade teachers prepare classrooms beginning February 8 so that students could return on February 22. Nine thousand students are scheduled to enter buildings first, with further grades phased in later.
Philadelphia’s Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium will be playing a much more hands-on role in the city’s vaccine distribution efforts. Consortium founder Dr. Ala Stanford shared on Instagram that the group — which has provided COVID-19 testing to more than 20,000 people — will be administering the vaccine to Philly’s Black communities. People can sign up through a contact form or can reach out via email at email@example.com. Vaccinations will be offered on a first come, first served basis. The consortium will begin administering the vaccines when Philadelphia enters Phase 1B of its distribution plan, which includes critical essential workers and is expected to start sometime soon in early 2021.
Philadelphia, PA - Imagine being a parent, hustling “gig economy” jobs, without a home during the COVID-19 pandemic. For Jasmine and Ariel, this has been the reality since May. They are a couple in their 30s, both with children from previous relationships, and navigating the minefields of poverty and pandemic. They had an apartment, but when Jasmine missed a check-in with her probation officer, she was sent to prison, leaving Ariel with no way to pay the rent and without a home. According to a recent study conducted by geographers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, there are 10 abandoned properties for every 1 homeless person in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia is facing a housing crisis with little help from the Democratic city council, mayor, or governor. In the city, 5,700 people are currently unhoused. Almost a thousand sleep on the streets on a given night. But more than that, this year has already seen 4,400 evictions filed in Philly courts. Another 2,000 renters are facing the very real threat of eviction and becoming part of the unhoused. This multifaceted crisis of housing is taking place as the numbers of those infected with Covid-19 are skyrocketing in the city (reaching 100,000 cases and 2,500 deaths), as winter descends, and in the wake of a major snowstorm that just hit the city.
On Tuesday, November 17, nurses at St. Mary Medical Center (SMMC) in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, went on strike after management refused to establish safe staffing ratios to confront the growing numbers of Covid cases at the hospital. Left Voice spoke with Drew, who has been a nurse for three years and, for the last year, has worked in the inpatient Endoscopy unit at the hospital. He is a rank-and-file member of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP), which represents nurses at St. Mary, and has been on the picket line during the strike.
Recorded on cellphone video pulling a mother out of her vehicle and smashing the windows with her toddler inside the backseat, several Philadelphia police officers are under investigation for appearing to assault an innocent woman and her family attempting to drive home during a recent protest. Attorneys representing the victim have confirmed she is filing a civil rights case against the police department. Shortly before 2 a.m. on Wednesday, Rickia Young was driving home with her 16-year-old nephew and two-year-old son when she became stuck in traffic at a police barricade during a protest against police brutality.
An activist and West Philadelphia teacher is facing federal charges related to rioting surrounding the George Floyd protests in Philadelphia this past June. Eyewitness News has learned that Anthony Smith, of West Philadelphia, has been arrested and faces multiple federal charges related to the civil unrest. Law enforcement sources confirmed Smith’s arrest, along with the community group he represents, Philly for Real Justice. “Early Wednesday morning Federal agents raided the West Philadelphia home of Anthony Smith, an outspoken community activist and a leader in the movement for Black lives in Philadelphia...
Philadelphia - The family of a Black man killed by Philadelphia police officers in a shooting caught on video had called for an ambulance to get him help with a mental health crisis, not for police intervention, their lawyer said. Police said Walter Wallace Jr., 27, was wielding a knife and ignored orders to drop the weapon before officers fired shots Monday afternoon. But his parents said Tuesday night that officers knew their son was in a mental health crisis because they had been to the family's house three times on Monday. Cathy Wallace, his mother, said one of the times, “they stood there and laughed at us.”